- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

How To Write A Proper Call-To-Action (Hint: Not Like This)

11th May, 2020

How To Write A Proper Call-To-Action (Hint: Not Like This)

‘Argh!’ I shouted, spraying flaky pastry across the table. ‘WTF IS THAT?!!! It’s just….terrible…on so many levels….where do I even start?!’


You see, during my bank holiday breakfast of Waitrose All-Butter Croissants, a certain green and yellow government slogan got me all riled up.


If its aim is to get people to do something (and that’s a big if, for a whole other email), then it’s a big fat failure.


Why? Because none of those three messages are things that you can actually easily DO.


If you want people to act, you have to:


  • ask them for a SPECIFIC, ACHIEVABLE action
  • ideally with a SPECIFIC timeline


In the marketing world, it’s called a call-to-action (CTA).


A good CTA makes the next step easy and obvious.


Whilst the government might be beyond help, I can channel my energy into helping you become more persuasive. Sound good?


Let’s look at two common CTA scenarios from the business world.


#1 When you want feedback on something like a report


Normally we’d write a sentence like: Please give me your feedback asap.


But ‘Give feedback’ is too vague.  Should it be via email or phone?  Are you looking for a quick ‘Yes, looks fine’ or a line-by-line analysis?  And ‘asap’ can vary wildly depending on how important the recipient thinks it is.


The next step isn’t obvious or easy.  So, here’s what I’d suggest instead:


Please email me by Friday with your responses to the following questions:

  1. Is there any key information missing in the executive summary and conclusion?
  2. Is the data on p4 accurate?
  3. Which testimonials can we include on p12?


It’s much more likely to get a response as you’ve broken down clear next steps i.e. 3 specific actions they can tackle straight away, with a deadline of Friday.


#2 When you want a meeting or call with someone


When we’re trying to get time in someone’s diary, we might end an email with:  It would be great if you’re free for a call next week to discuss.


But the next step is unclear.  So, instead try something like:


‘Please let me know if you’re free on Thursday at 10am to chat through.’


Much more specific and actionable.   This CTA will have them checking their calendar and replying straight away as it’s an easy and obvious next step.


So I hope this advice helps you get what you want. It’s certainly been cathartic for me!

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

Get Your Epic Email Checklist

Enter your name and email address to get your indispensable checklist and follow-up emails.

By signing up you consent to receiving regular emails from me (Kim Arnold) with updates, tips and ideas on communication along with the occasional promotion for my products. You can, of course, unsubscribe at any time. Click here for my detailed privacy policy.